My Journey with Elvie

Anna King
10 min readFeb 23, 2023

I first heard of the Elvie Pump in 2018. Immediately, I was excited for this product. I intended on breastfeeding my child and the breastmilk pump models available in Canada are all airhorn-like with an appendage and bottle.

Torso of woman in tank top and breastfeeding bra with breast pump attached. Breast pump bottles are appended to breasts. Her hands are on her knees and she is seated wearing polka-dot pyjama pants.

In pregnancy, labour & delivery, and postpartum, women are extremely vulnerable and dignity is one of the first things that goes out the window.

To me, the Elvie breast pump is a step towards regaining that dignity. That’s why it was so important to me. I didn’t want to have airhorns attached to my body hanging out like that.

Elvie products were not and are still not currently in the Canadian market. I managed to purchase one through my sister in law who lives in the UK. It’s not cheap either, but my dignity was worth it.

The Elvie Breast Pump was a dream! It was small, quiet, wireless, and fit into my bra. I was able to multi-task: blow-drying my hair, doing simple meal prep, or eat while pumping.

It was advertised that pumping would be discreet and no one would even know, but this was definitely not the case for me. As a petite woman, the breast pump is very visible and it’s obvious that I’m wearing a device. In addition, there is a green light that is on while the pump is working. It can be seen over any shirt.

I also pumped in the middle of the night due to high supply and the light was often quite bright with no alternate option to change the brightness.

Not only was the Elvie Breast Pump simply doing it’s job pumping breast milk, it meant much more to me than just a device.

It meant I could be away from my baby and connect with friends in a season that is otherwise extremely isolating.

It meant I could sleep better and not be the sole feeder for those midnight feeds. It meant other grandparents and other family members could bond with my child in the special ritual of feeding.

It meant my husband and I could go on dates to reconnect when the needs of our child often trump maintaining our marriage.

In short, having a convenient, easy to use breast pump was FREEDOM.

In addition, I signed up to be a breastmilk donor with BC Milk Bank to provide breastmilk for babies Neonatal Intensive Care Units across British Columbia. What an amazing way to give what I can to help others in need. The Elvie Pump made it simple and convenient to pump, so I could do this.

However, within less than 6 months of using the Elvie Pump, I had to submit a warranty claim because the button that releases the milk collection container had broken off. It’s hard plastic with little give, so it’s not surprising that it was first to go. Elvie responded to say that it’s a known problem and they were sourcing new materials that would be more durable. My unit was under warranty still, but because my sister in law had purchased it, she had to submit the claim. This was simple. Mail the button part to Canada and replace it ourselves.

A few weeks later, the unit was making a clicking noise. As it is heavily advertised that the pump is silent, the noise was unusual.

Elvie Advertising

We sent a video of the clicking noise to Elvie and they responded to ask if it was the breast shield that was making the sound and recommended I purchase a new shield. I responded to their questions and it was indeed the hub (main unit) that was making the clicking sound with and without the other components attached. Through trial and error, I factored out that even with the unit fully charged, breast shields cleaned and sanitized, and all instructions in the manual and correspondence had been adhered to, the hub was still noisy. Even though the pump was purchased in January, I had my baby in March, so the unit was only in use for < 3 months before breaking down.

In the end, Elvie replaced the entire hub as it was still under warranty within 6 months of purchase. Thank you, Elvie!

All in all, I still really liked the product and philosophically, it was exactly what I wanted to support: giving dignity to women and empowering women with tools to contribute positively to postpartum life. I understand that creating hardware is difficult. It’s not perfect and it takes grace from early adopters to get it further in the process.

I used the Elvie every day for nearly 18 months. Throughout my journey, I was able to donate a total 32,300 mL of milk to NICU babies! The Elvie Breast Pump made it possible for me and others to feed my child with ease giving me the freedom to work, socialize, volunteer, and enjoy life in addition to the joys of motherhood. The ease of pumping also empowered me to donate to help numerous other moms and babes in our province who needed it most. Babies who access donated breastmilk may have conditions as varied as prematurity, cancer, formula intolerance, post-surgery, gut problems, and many other conditions. What an immense privilege it is to be able to give breastmilk!

After I had weaned my first child, I studiously put away the Elvie Breast Pump by following the long-term storage guidelines in the manual. I was already pregnant again with my second child and intended on bringing it back out again in a few months.

My husband and I welcomed a baby boy and I was excited to bust out the Elvie Breast Pump again, but it didn’t turn on even after it was charged for a good long time. It was now just passed the 2 years warranty as the original unit was purchased in advance of baby #1. I wrote to Elvie anyway to see if the issue could be resolved or to receive any tips that they may have. It was important to me to get it working again.

I had lost the original charging cable and the cable was not a component that could be purchased separately from Elvie. The cable was, afterall, a simple USB to micro USB cable. We had been using a different one for a while anyway. No dice.

The manual said that the hub unit likely has a lifespan of 500 hours and with my excessive use, I accepted that perhaps it was near the end of its life.

The Elvie Breast Pump isn’t an affordable piece of medical equipment, so I was hoping to get more use out of it before it died.

After humming and hawing for a bit due to the cost and accessibility, I ordered a new Elvie breast pump. The Elvie still isn’t for sale in Canada, so I had to use a friend’s address across the border in Washington, ship it to her, and then have her ship it to me. Thankfully, the original shipping was free. Still, I had to pay an addition $150 CAD of shipping and custom fees to finally receive my new Elvie pump a month later. This cost is in addition to the cost of the purchasing the unit increasing it’s inaccessibility.

This time, after just 3 months of use, the brand new unit also died.

Easily ruling out excessive use, faulty charging cable, and broken components since it was a brand new hub, this exhausted mother of a toddler and a newborn had to call Customer Service. The hub would not charge after just 1 day of it not being constantly charged. That’s odd and frustrating.

The action the Customer Service member provided to me was to go onto a Facebook Group forum started by folks who have purchased their product or those considering to purchase crowdsource tips for each other. This was not the result I was hoping for so I called the same Customer Service line again in hopes of speaking to a different agent. The second agent was able to find the issue. They asked me if I was using the mobile app during every pump session. I was not.

I didn’t find the app necessary. The purpose of the product was to pump breast milk and feed my child. I don’t need to know how many mL, which breast I’ve pumped, or how long each session was. All I care about was keeping myself and my newborn alive in a season of sleep deprivation and family transitions, so I did not use the app.

This was the issue! The hub NEEDED to sync with the app in order to offload the data collected. Without using the app, the hub simply could not continue to operate due to being overloaded with data. My original hub did not die due to excessive use, it died because I didn’t always use the app. I used the app occasionally, which is why it lasted as long as it did already (18 months). Without ever using the app, it lasted 3 months. This was a huge oversight by the manufacturer.

No where on the website nor on in the entire instruction manual did it say that use of the app is imperative.

Even though the original unit was no longer under warranty, they escalated the issue after I plead my case. In the end Elvie sent 1 new replacement hub for the unit under warranty and 1 refurbished replacement hub for the unit that was no longer under warranty. I felt this was a fair result.

I continued to use the new units regularly until I didn’t need it anymore. I lent 1 unit to a friend who had just given birth. I gave specific instructions to USE IT WITH THE APP, but alas, she didn’t use the app either. The unit stopped working for a bit, but was able to offload the data after a full charge so it’s still in working order again. Although it’s only a test sample of 2, it goes to show mothers don’t need anything more than the function of the product itself.

I didn’t touch on the app much in this story and review. Most of the control functions that the app can control can also be controlled on the hardware. Functions exclusive to the app are stimulation mode vs expression mode, a timer, and their new SmartRhythm pumping. As my primary goal was to feed my baby, I didn’t care much for optimizing the pumping experience. Other tutorials on the app that helped with sizing and provided general information on breastfeeding.

TDLR Review

Accessibility — 1 star; Design look and feel 5 stars; Product Hardware 3 stars; Product Software 4 stars; User Experience 4 stars; Customer Care 3 stars

Overall, I have 4 Elvie Breast Pumps in various working conditions from completely defunct to working. The product still has many shortcomings despite being around for 10 years now (est. 2013). The Elvie is a good product that empowers women in the difficult season of having and breastfeeding a newborn.

The design is beautiful, smooth, and elegant. Because it’s a wearable unit, it’s weaker than pumps with a large motor pack, but the Elvie is strong enough for women with medium to high supply.

Because I’m more petite, even though the hub isn’t very large it would be quite obvious if I was pumping beneath my clothing at an office. That part of the advertising doesn’t work for me though it is discreet and dignifying enough that I would feel comfortable pumping in the presence of guests at home. The biggest win for me is that I can pump hands-free and my mobility is not limited. Cleaning is also simpler than breast pumps with tubes. All in all, the Elvie pump worked really well with my life and gave dignity and freedom.

Things I would consider changing

  • Soft breast shields — would accommodate more breast shapes and nipple sizes for a increased functionality. Users above or below average sizing are punished with the cost of purchasing additional hard plastic breasts shields. I have more than half a dozen extra shields that don’t fit me that either came with the original purchase or Customer Service suggested I purchase. Consider using soft silicone that can mold to a multitude of breasts/nipple shapes and sizes.
  • Offloading data — through syncing with the app either needs to be explicit in user manual and website materials so users know and understand the need to use the app. It’s a major oversight to think users will automatically use the app. The app isn’t essential to the product function. Even now, after my case, the website FAQ simply lets users know that using the app is “recommended” not that the hub will die if you don’t.
  • Hub light night mode—would be a good minor update. The little green light felt bright in a dark room when I pumped at night. It also shone through thin clothing and was not as discreet. This would be a minor adjustment that would be really helpful.
  • Proactive Direct Customer Care — It felt odd to be sent to a crowdsourced Facebook group to get answers about their product. It isn’t advisable to send customers to a group where folks may be complaining about the product. Not all users use Facebook.
  • Accessibility — I would love to see Elvie products available globally so folks don’t need to jump through hoops in order to give patronage like I did. The price point also decreases accessibility. I understand that a lot of the pricing has to do with Amercian insurance. Unfortunately, Elvie breast pumps are out of reach for a vast majority of women.



Anna King

Former CMO promoted to Stay-at-Home Mother. Gaining ground towards dignity and empowerment in Women's Health.